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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

There are strict import restrictions on agricultural products, telecommunication equipment, chemical products. etc. Numerous laws and regulations have changed since the creation in 1995 of the European Economic Space.





In 2004, the total value of retail trade in Norway was estimated at 32 billion euros, a growth of 5.1% compared to 2003. The main commercial centres are centered around Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger.
The Norwegian distribution system is quite organised and consolidated. It is characterised by a fewer number of intermediaries, sensible margins, a diversity of trends, and dynamic professional syndicates. Distribution chains dominate the market, and some chains have strengthened their position by taking on the role of wholesaler as well, such as:

The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
Total retail trade in 2004 was valued at 17.7 billion euros, which is an increase of 3.3 % over 2003. There were approximately 10,700 retail outlets in Norway in 2003. Mass market sales accounted for 84% of total turnover, the service sector represented 13%, and the grocery trade represented 3%. The principal Norwegian stores are:
- NorgesGruppen with 2,760 retail outlets and a 32% market-share with a turnover of 4.43 billion euros in 2004. It is the leader in the distribution market. NorgesGruppen signed a partnership agreement with Carrefour in October 2003 but it was eventually broken in 2005 for “differences in strategic priorities”. The aim of this partnership was to consolidate the position of NorgesGruppen after the arrival of Lidl in Norway.
- Coop Norge with 910 retail outlets, a 19.9% market share, and turnover of 3.3 billion euros.
- ICA Norge a Swedish company with 1,032 retail outlets, 19.5% market-share, and turnover of 2.85 billion euros.
Shopping centers have also known great success, reaching a total turnover of 1.5 billion euros in 2004 in 4 principal zones: Oslo, Akershus, Osdtfold and Vestfold; thus registering a growth of 6.3% as compared to 2003. The main shopping centres are:
- Olav Thon Gruppen
- Steen et Strom
- Amfi Eiendom...

The Business to Business (B to B) market
It is important to note that Norway is a major importer of consumer goods; in fact, one out of every two products is brought in from abroad. In the food sector, importers would be well advised to contact the four main retail chains namely, Norges Gruppen AS, ICA gruppen, Reitan Gruppen AS and Forbrukersamvirket or NKL. Importing such products usually happens through wholesalers which are controlled by chain stores. Norwegian retailers also call on these wholesalers in order to replenish their stocks. Bigger retailers place their orders directly with foreign manufacturers. A certain number of partnership agreements have been signed with some foreign companies.


Transportation of goods

By road
The road network at present extends over 89,737 km. Distances between big agglomerations are very large.

By rail
As for the railway network, Norway has 4,023 km of railway lines of which half are electrified. The railway company is called Norges Statisbanner or NSB. The railway network of this country is not very fast due to the uneven hilly relief.

By sea
The principal ports are Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger. Other small ports play an important role for the marine freight traffic. It is necessary to mention that Norway's marine fleet is the fourth largest in the world.

By air
Air transport has a well developed internal network. It is the fastest means of transport considering the geographical location and the relief of this country. There are 38 airports which easily connect and serve all the important cities.


The Norwegian competent institution in the field of standards, called Norges Elektriske MateriellKontroll Nemko, grants a label to electrical products, a plus sign for sale because it is not required for products originating from the European Union (EU). This institution lays down and publishes standards. In order to use the NS trademark, it is compulsory to have a license. Standards do not have an obligatory character, but there are precise rules and regulations concerning health and security that have to be particularly respected.
So far as the quality insurance is concerned (ISO 9000), it is quite widespread and appreciated in offshore market.
For marking and labelling, the European Rules and Regulations are applied and respected.

Patents and brands

Norway is a member of different agreements for the protection of intellectual rights : Paris Convention (industrial property), Berne Convention (protection of copyrights of authors) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
Patents are protected by the laws of 8th June 1979 and 24th May 1985. A patent is granted for a duration of 20 years after payment of annual fee. The persons who, on the other hand, are not domiciled in Norway, must sign up with a patent attorney in this country.
Trademarks are protected by the law of 3rd March 1961. Registration of a trademark is valid for 10 years and protection can be renewed four times
If industrial models are registered, the law of 2nd July 1910 protects the models for a period of 15 years.
The copyrights of authors represent artistic, literary and musical creations.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Patents Act No. 20 May 7, 2004 20 years :
Trademark Trademarks Act No. 15 May 1, 2003 10 years, renewable for a further 10-year period :
Design Act Relating to Design Protection (Designs Act) March 13, 2003 5 years, renewable four times, for 5-year periods, for up to 25 years :


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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